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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat

Shelling of Village in Northern Syria Kills 4 Students

Smoke billows following a reported Russian air strike on the village of Maaret al-Naasan in Syria's northern Idlib countryside on Feb. 16, 2020. (File photo: AFP)

Syrian government forces on Monday shelled a rebel-held village in northwestern Syria, the country’s last major opposition stronghold, killing four students on their way to school, opposition activists said.

The shelling targeted the village of Maaret al-Naasan in Idlib province. The province is Syria’s last major rebel stronghold and home to more than 3 million people, many of them internally displaced by the civil war that began in 2011, The Associated Press said.

The four students were killed while on their way to school, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights an opposition war monitoring group, and Idlib-based activist Hadi Abdullah. The Observatory said the four were all boys and all under the age of 18. It did not provide further details.

The shelling came as Russian warplanes conducted strikes on other parts of Idlib. The Observatory and the Thiqa news agency, an activist collective, said Russian warplanes attacked southern parts of the province on Monday.

Russia joined Syria’s conflict in September 2015, helping tip the balance of power in favor of President Bashar Assad’s forces.

Russian warplanes have continued to conduct airstrikes in Idlib, targeting suspected insurgent positions, as well as in central Syria, where sleeper cells of the ISIS group are active. However, the Observatory says that the number of Russian strikes have dropped since late February, after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Syria’s 11-year conflict has killed nearly half a million people and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.

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